Political law

A&O Shearman’s political law team helps corporates, financial institutions and investment funds comply with political laws around the world.  

Blue Create logo

We have extensive experience in U.S. matters, particularly in financial services where we act for technology companies, banks, private equity funds, hedge funds, broker-dealers, and trade associations.  

We also advise boards on governance around companies’ political activities, to minimize reputational risk and address shareholder concerns regarding transparency. 

We have dedicated lawyers in jurisdictions with emerging political law regimes, including the U.K., EU member states and Australia. As a result we are one of the few firms capable of designing cross-border political law compliance systems, whether for U.S. organizations expanding their public affairs activities globally, or non-U.S. businesses doing the same within the United States.  

Lobbying laws  

Our expertise covers lobbying regulations, which have historically applied to attempts to influence legislative and regulatory outcomes but have more recently been expanded to cover efforts to obtain government contracts or investment (often known as “procurement lobbying”).  

These laws mean businesspeople involved in public sector procurement, public pension system investment, and other public sector advisory relationships, are required to register as lobbyists in many jurisdictions.  

Advice on campaign finance and pay-to-play rules 

Companies are often electorally active, in ballot initiative elections, directly from corporate funds, and indirectly through trade associations or other tax-exempt organizations.  

In the U.S., although federal rules prohibit corporations from making contributions to candidates directly, they can establish political action committees (PACs) that can solicit voluntary contributions from certain employees and contribute to candidates and other PACs.  

Inadequate internal controls around corporate political activity can have serious legal and reputational consequences. 

Our teams advise on pay-to-play laws, which restrict current or prospective government contractors and their employees from making and soliciting political contributions.  

These rules often impose severe penalties on a strict liability basis, and even inadvertent failures to comply can see companies banned from doing business in a particular jurisdiction. 

Guidance on global gift and entertainment laws 

We have deep experience of global gift and entertainment laws, which govern the way parties seeking to do business with governments interact with public officials and employees.  

There is substantial variation in gift law requirements across jurisdictions, and different government agencies in a single jurisdiction will often have their own rules.  

We help our clients navigate post-employment restrictions, which are designed to curtail businesses’ ability to hire former government officials to communicate with and appear before the agencies where they previously served.  

And our lawyers have deep experience with state, local, and system-specific placement agent rules, which regulate the solicitation of investment by asset managers from U.S. public pension systems.  

To support our clients we have created an interactive database of political law regimes that contains detailed, user-friendly summaries of lobbying, campaign finance, pay-to-play, gift and entertainment and revolving door regimes for all 50 U.S. states and a number of major cities, including New York City, the District of Columbia, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

Find an advisor

We have nearly 4,000 lawyers and consultants globally with outstanding expertise and industry knowledge. Use the filters to find the right one for you.